Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Adios mamá, aneh huitzilincuatzintahtli
The hummingbird whir of her hands, nimble fingers that stitched quinceañera dresses, built delicate sand castle-sized cakes from roses and flowers made with sugar frosting can be heard faintly. Her small, strong and stoic hands, hands that once picked cotton and tomatoes and okra, are pressing against my breastbone gently in the dark. Her spirit has returned to remind me of those moments as a child when only a warm glass of milk and her thumbs in circular motion along my temples could get me to sleep. She is gone you see. Se nos ha ido la bella picarrosa. She ascended on Saturday night in a room far away. I would have spoken of weeklong dread, a foreboding that was countered by a good meeting on Friday with old friend, author and community advocate Luís Rodríguez at Tia Chucha's Café Cultural and a visit to both Ave. 50 Studios and Trópico de Nopal as a tag along with friends who knew I was anxious to be near my mother's side. I searched frantically for a one-way flight because I could not change a previously purchased reservation in order to arrive sooner, but it was not soon enough. Juliana Zepeda Vela, the woman from whom everything beautiful, my appreciation for all things creative, aesthetic, sensitive or artistic comes, is no longer here. I know hurt greater than any heartbreak now. My artist friend Daniel Gonzalez, a printmaker from Boyle Heights says "Que tragos amargos nos da la vida!" Media artist Maritza Alvarez sends me into the aftermath of my beautiful mother's ascencion with "fuerza y paz." But the loss is no less painful. At 69, she succumbed to liver cancer, almost as if the posting of the previous poem was a prophetic foreshadowing. We knew it would happen. We just didn't think it would happen so quickly. The poem was posted shortly after a run along Huntington Drive to Alhambra--a stab at cardiovascular health--where I discovered a hummingbird on the pavement midway between the El Sereno Community Garden and Fremont Street. Irridescent, the nestling was barely alive, its tiny heartbeat racing uncontrollably. I moved the injured baby bird to a cooler, less visibe place. And I did not realize it was a message for me until I opened the box of adornments my mother had often worn and wished me to have as a gift when she was gone. Last night inside my mother's home, my sister Alma handed me what seemed to be a watch or bracelet case. Inside, I found a silver a hummingbird broach. It lay alongside a pendant, an antique woman's watch and a bracelet, keepsakes meant for me by a mother who embodied style and grace as the visible evidence and an extension of her natural talent as an artesana. Remarkably, the pendant--a silver Thai circle with an aqua-colored stone set in its center--suits the dress she selected for her burial, perfectly. Since she had never worn the dress, we removed it from her closest with the price tag still attached. I've decided she will take the pendant with her. I have my family's permission to place the pendant around her slender neck during a memorial service tomorrow. The brocade huitzilin I will keep as a reminder of the mission she has symbolically entrusted to me. Y como me mandó mi querida madre, voy empezar pidiendole publicamente las disculpas a la hija de ehecatl. Ojalá que un día me pueda perdonar. Pero no la culparía si nunca quisiera jamás. I will honor her memory as well, while I seek transformation and peace. As instructed by my mother, I will leave the past where it belongs and hover fearlessly in the face of the future.